Tag Archives: Review

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

The Blurb:

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

What I liked:

I chose this book to read because I loved Gone Girl when I read it, and got intrigued about other books by the same author. 

I really liked everything about this story to be honest. I thought the central character (Camille) was described brilliantly – she was flawed and troubled, but also narrated the story well. I loved that there was also a hint of darkness to her past experiences, but that she wasn’t always able to tell what was right and what was wrong about her past.

I got gripped by the story too and the characters – this is something that also stands out in Flynn’s later work (Gone Girl). 

What I didn’t like

As said above, I liked everything. If I was going to be picky I would mention that the actual murders became a bit of a side issue within everything else, and I would also state that I feel that Ammy (the step sister) to be varied hugely in her character, which at times just didn’t add up. However, I think that this is something that Flynn does master in Gone Girl. I also think that none of the above things detracted from the story.

I have another book to read (Dark Places) by the same author next and I can’t wait to get started.

5/5 

Advertisements

The girl in the photograph by Kate Riordan

I haven’t read a book for a while. Mostly because I’ve been struggling (again!) with work…nothing major, just really busy and using a lot of spare time catching up, unpaid. It’s annoying but if I don’t it’s not me that loses out, it’s my lovely service users and their families. So I have to do it, or I can’t live with myself. Even then I’m not getting everything done. But yeah, it means that the time I do have I’m tired, stressed or just can’t be bothered to read.

This book is one I bought for my kindle a while ago but hadn’t read. Things did settle down this week, and I finally felt ready to get immersed in a good story again. I chose this one as it has been sitting patiently for so long 🙂

It is a book of the kind I love: anything with an old manor house I tend to love for some reason! It’s set in two times. The basic story is that a girl called Alice gets herself pregnant in London by a married man. She is sent to an old manor house to have the baby, with the plan that it will then be adopted later. While at the manor house, she becomes a fascinated by Elizabeth and her husband Edward and their lives from a previous time.

I did enjoy this book, but I have to admit that I don’t think it’s one that grabbed me like others have. I think that the main character (Alice) never really seemed to grab me, so I didn’t walk in her shoes much. I do tend to love the ‘past’ story more though, and it was the same in this case – I loved the story of Elizabeth and I did really relate to her.

I would recommend this book, and I would read it again, but it’s also not my favourite in this genre (I love The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, and The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield the most).

3.5 stars.

Xxx

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan

untitled

The Blurb

Detective Esa Khattak is in the midst of his evening prayers when he receives a phone call asking that he and his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, look into the death of a local man who has fallen off a cliff. At first Christopher Drayton’s death – which looks like an accident – doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, especially not from Khattak and Rachel’s team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But it soon comes to light that Drayton might have been living under an assumed name, and he may not have been the upstanding Canadian citizen he appeared to be. In fact, he may have been a Bosnian war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. And if that’s true, any number of people could have had reason to help him to his death. As Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, and there are no easy answers. Did the specters of Srebrenica return to haunt Drayton at last, or had he been keeping secrets of an entirely different nature? Or, after all, did a man just fall to his death in a tragic accident? In her spellbinding debut, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice that will linger with readers long after turning the final page.

My Thoughts

The main thing that I loved about this book is that it opened my eyes to things that I didn’t even know existed. It is a crime drama with a difference – the main topic is that of the Bosnian conflict, using actual quotes (which  loved, but would have liked the context to be added with the quote rather than at the back of the book) and remembering what happened. I was aged between 7- 10 when this was happening and have never heard much about it – this book made it real to me, and after reading I did a bit of research about it. I had never realised about the ‘rape camps’ the mass slaughter or the complete horror of what had happened. This story is a powerful one.

I liked the story of Hadley and Cassidy. I liked Hadley particularly – her courage and yet vulnerability, and her relationship with Riv and her father. She above anyone else really came to life for me in this story.

I’ll be honest. Some parts of this book stuck out. Others I found difficult to read – some of the more political parts I didn’t really connect with, and the description of Esa’s experience never really ‘gelled’ for me. I didn’t really feel that much was added by having these parts in the story.

I also wasn’t keen on the amount of ‘threads’ to keep hold of. There were an awful lot of characters, and I cant help but feel that a few could have been edited out with the same story at the end. The story of Esa, Nate and the ex colleague / girlfriend for example didn’t really add anything to the main story / stories. I liked the way the stories were all connected at the end,  but I just felt there was too many messages to follow.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book because of what it taught me – I have a feeling that the story itself will fade, but what I learnt about the Bosnian conflict will remain with me, and I may even look into it further as I am really interested in it.

Quotes

‘Any rape is monstrously unacceptable but what is happening at this very moment In these rape and death camps is even more horrific.’

‘I knew all of them who did it. They were my neighbours.’

The non technical guide to putting a woodburner in.

1. Save up a lot of money. Unless you want the trauma of doing it yourself. We got quoted almost 2 grand to empty the stuff out of the hole (including pipes), to fit a liner etc. and to put up boarding. That cost was minus the wood burner, installation of flooring. Since that is the whole of our budget, we decided to DIY it. Mind you, we DIY everything – we just can’t pay money if it can be done by us. Or Craig, since I am actually useless at DIY).

2. Research it. We have read the building regs, read expert websites, read an installation manual (okay, that was just Craig), and sourced the best quality materials for the best price we could.

3. Get a liner. It’s more hassle, it’s stressful and it’s expensive, but it means no carbon monoxide leaks. It’s not a legal requirement (yet) but is generally advised.

4. Be brave. It’s scary, taking out a fire to find bricks, pipes and a black hole.

4. Measure the fit. We spent £200 on insulation for our liner. It wouldn’t fit up the chimney. It’s a lesson learned, may as well pass it on.

5. Get the safety equipment for the roof. And then (if you are me) go out and let the boys who in my case are the ones who know how to do these things get on with it. I was too worried about a potential accident to stay. We borrowed harnesses from a scaffolder we knew over the weekend.

6. Plan the time of year better than us. Don’t be spontaneous and start fireplaces in October so that it ends up November when the roof climbing needs doing.

7. Check and check again. This applies to everything. Measuring, regulations, safety equipment.

8. Prepare for mess – I didn’t expect the soot, the dust or the tools that happened. Necessary, but it’s better to know it’s coming.

9. Have a spare hoover. Otherwise, yours will get filled with everything that hoovers don’t like. Like concrete, and soot, and stones.

10. Whatever your time frame, add a month. When finished, it would have taken us about 3 months I think. We haven’t rushed it (we have limited time off) but everything takes time.

We haven’t finished yet. But we are getting closer. The hardest job by far is done (the liner) and now we just have the back boarding, flooring and installation of the burner to go.

Can’t wait to sit and look at it when it’s done 🙂

xxx

 

 

Blacklist

MV5BNTk2ODQzOTY4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjkwMjQ3MjE@__V1_SX67_CR0,0,67,98_AL_

If you love CSI and crime drama type programmes, Blacklist is or you 🙂 Me and Craig have been watching it for the past couple of months, and have just finished all of the existing episodes. So I thought It seemed like a good deed to share the information about it (I haven’t been asked to review it, I just wanted to).

What it’s all about

Former government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) has eluded capture for decades. But he suddenly surrenders to the FBI with an offer to help catch a terrorist under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone), a young FBI profiler who’s just barely out of Quantico. *

What I liked

– It is much more than it says on the tin. In each episode there is a story – such as them going  after a criminal. But there is much more. The motivations of the characters is interesting, and is developed a little during each episode.

– I loved the drama – I like escapist TV, things that I can watch, enjoy and don’t worry me, make me think too much or annoy me (I have enough of that in everyday life!). So this is perfect.

– There are some brilliant episodes, and the acting is pretty good – I especially like Red and Tom Keen.

The not so good

– Some episodes were a bit repetitive.

– They often let the criminals get away, which becomes a bit annoying.

– I wanted to know a bit more of the ‘why’ (don’t want to say too much in-case of spoilers) but the constant mystery of peoples motivations does get annoying.

– Everyone hated Red all the time, even when what he has done is actually a nice thing, like saving somebody.

I would recommend that everyone watch at least one episode – if you don’t like the first, you probably wont like the rest. If you like it, you might get a bit addicted 🙂

I’m onto The Good Wife now – I may love American crime drama a little bit.

xxx

* Blurb from imdb website. I couldn’t be bothered to write my own 🙂

The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman.

51Y0xHUdgsL__SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU02_AA300_

I am enjoying reviewing the books I have read lately – it gives me chance to reflect on the book a little more before moving on.

The Blurb

When time is running out, every moment is precious…


When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold onto the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?

My Thoughts

The blurb doesn’t give much away does it. It is basically about a lay with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and it records some of her journey.

I thought that this was a lovely book – it did touch a chord with me as I work with people with dementia and so I have met a lot of people and families on this journey already. I really liked Claire as the narrator – I loved that she is captured as a ‘real’ person and not just as someone who has been diagnosed with dementia. I also like how she doesn’t just maintain the relationships she has, but that they also grow and change, as do all things in life.

This book is so easy to read – the narrative is simple and straightforward. But the messages under the easy reading are difficult ones, and challenge readers to think about their values and the way they think about dementia. It challenges that dementia always has to disenable people – it shows that it is an awful and scary illness for everyone, but also that good things can still come from it.

‘ And now I know that I can hope, and I know that I will go on hoping, always hoping, that she will come back to me, one last time.’

‘I promise you, the world might crumble away around you, your brain and body might betray you, but your heart, your spirit…that is what will stay true.’

The not so good

In all honesty I don’t really have anything that I didn’t like. I liked everything – its just a lovely book to read. It is not a book that I would read again for a good while I think, but it is a book where the message will stay with me.

4 stars.

The Martian book review..

Untitled

The Blurb

I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth.

I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m screwed.

My Thoughts

This is not the usual type of book I would be drawn to, but I loved the ‘matter of fact’ description in the blurb, and it just called to me. It’s part of the Richard and Judy book club – I don’t read all of the selection but I choose the ones that appeal, and this one did.

I liked a lot about this book. I liked the style of writing – I liked the narrator and I enjoyed the story and the way in which far fetched scenarios seemed entirely believable. It also all seemed very scientific and well researched.

I was just looking for quotes, but to be honest there’s nothing that is in a bite sized chunk to give you a sample. The writing is so straight forward and logical, because the main character is that way. It’s a positive thing – he is as he is.

The not so good

There’s only one thing I wasn’t keen on in this book. And that’s the lack of any emotion. None of the characters ever have much of an In depth or meaningful converations. I think that that is the one thing missing. I do understand that the main character uses humour rather that emotion, but there are other characters – I would expect to get a bit more from them but it all seems a bit superficial.

And – slight spoiler here – I hated the e-mails sent to and from the other crew members. I thought they were rubbish for the reasons above. It was just too shallow.

Overall

Overall I would recommend this book. It’s a good read and I can imagine reading and enjoying it again at some point. And I love the fact that the author – Andy Weir – originally self published it as his first Novel before it being a success and then taken on by a publishing house. I liked that he has had that kind of success and that this has been recognised as a good read.

Overall then – 4 stars out of 5. Recommended.

Magik beanz review…

20141103-210308.jpg

There is something about Autumn that makes me crave candlelight and lamps and cosiness. It feels lovely to close the blinds, shut the world out, light a candle, put the lamp on and breath. And just filter out the world for a few precious hours each day. I think the reason I love autumn so much is because of cosy evenings more than anything else.

So when I saw a review of Magik beanz on one of my favourite blogs (write like nobody’s watching) I couldn’t resist having a look.

And I got carried away. I ordered an autumn collection of Magik Beans. I ordered a pack of 12 that come with a burner. I have not in any way shape or form been asked to review them, but I rarely (read here, never) treat myself anymore, and so I wanted to review something that I have bought just for me.

20141103-203116.jpg

The Details

Magik beanz are little soy wax beans – you get 15 in each re sealable tub, which equals about 20 hours of burning time. So all of my tubs should equal 230 hours – that’s a lot of cosy nights to keep me happy. They have a nice strong fragrance (some stronger than others), but I like to be able to smell my candles so it’s a huge positive for me.

The pros

Okay, first things first. The good things. I love the scent. That’s the important thing really, isn’t it. I literally couldn’t wait to try them – I picked a few beans (I mixed and matched three scents) and lit my new burner and the scent filled the room pretty quickly. And with scents like ‘bramble jelly’ and ‘Sun kissed raspberry’ it is actually quite hard to choose which to try, and to match them together.

Amelia, my almost 5 year old was almost as excited as me I might add – she loved choosing 5 beans (she also mixed and matched!) after school. She chose by colour, but it is still going strong 3 hours later – I can smell biscuits, a little apple, brambles and loveliness. And her words were ‘it’s so good I wish I could taste it.’

I also love how much choice there is. There seem to be lots of seasonal choices, and then favourites – there is so much variety and you can choose by fragrances that you enjoy too – the choice is pretty much never ending. And the names are lovely – I like having a nice name and description, and looking forward to what It will be like when it arrives.

The not so good

Okay, I only have one niggle. Well, maybe two. Or three – but minor ones really.
First, postage. It’s £4.99 for postage – for me that’s a lot. Especially if you are not making a big order. However, I have got over it.

Second, the burner. I have to admit that I was disappointed with it. It’s black and quite small. It’s really the colour – I expected something a bit brighter I think. However, again, it’s not a huge issue, it’s just not something I love, but it’s okay.  I will buy something more to my taste – or maybe ask for one as an Xmas gift 🙂 (Mum, I hope you are reading this part, as this is an idea for you!) However, it may be nice if the colour of the burner is something that could be chosen, maybe?

And one final thing, since I like to keep my review honest. I think the website could use some work. It’s a bit difficult to navigate – it took me a while to figure it out, and the layout and options could be a bit clearer.

However, all of the above are small issues – it’s nothing major, and I think I have found my new favourite candles, so i don’t care much about any of the above 🙂 I am pretty certain that I will return for more.

Overall though, I’m excited. It’s lovely being able to choose a different scent each night – I’m looking forward to trying more. And with such interesting scents to choose from Its a grown up (yes, I’m sad I know) kind of fun.

Xxx

20141103-203946.jpg

20141103-203956.jpg

Remember Me by Lesley Pearse

The Blurb

In 1786 a fisherman’s daughter from Cornwall called Mary Broad was sentenced to be hung for theft. But her sentence was commuted, and she was transported to Australia, one of the first convicts to arrive there.

How Mary escaped the harsh existence of the colony and found true love, and how she was captured and taken back to London in chains, only to be released after a trial where she was defended by no less than James Boswell, is one of the most gripping and moving stories of human endeavour (based on an amazing true story) you will ever read.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. It is based on a true story, and parts of it disturbed me so much that I have spent a lot of time thinking about them since. For me, a good book is one which will stay with me, and parts of this will. I can’t talk too much about which bits without giving too much away, but I’ll just say that there is  heartbreak and tragedy within the story.

I liked the main character – the author has written her cleverly, and made her likeable, strong and resourceful. I thought some of the other characters were sometimes a bit vague, and faded out of the story a bit fast without much further thought. I suppose part of that is because there are a large number of ‘extra’ characters in the book – too many in a way as it means they all get a bit confusing.

Best Bits…

I liked the main character – the author has written her cleverly, and made her likeable, strong and resourceful. I had a lot of empathy with / sympathy for, and I wish I knew more about her life after the story was finished. Mary made this story into something special.

I liked the way that the realities of the colonies in Australia was written. Now, it’s easy to see those who were transported as lucky to have landed somewhere so beautiful, but this book shows how awful it was in the beginning, and how difficult things were in great detail. It also all came across as very ‘real’ – although the details of the reality will never be known, I felt that this story is probably something close to the reality.

The Bad Bits…

I thought some of the other characters were sometimes a bit vague, and faded out of the story a bit fast without much further thought. I suppose part of that is because there are a large number of ‘extra’ characters in the book – too many in a way as it means they all get a bit confusing.

Other than this, overall I really did enjoy this book and will look for others by this author – it is not what I expected when I picked it, and some parts of it will remain in my mind for a long time to come.

4/5 stars.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The blurb…

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart…

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic writer Vida Winter? And what is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret’s own, troubled life?

As Margaret digs deeper, two parallel stories unfold, and the tale she uncovers sheds a disturbing light on her own life…

My Thoughts…

This book is the kind of book I love. A lot o my favourite books are books set in different timeframes, and this has become one of my favourites. It did remind me of Kate Morton’s ‘The Forgotten Garden’ so if you liked that you will like this.

It was like a fairy-tale in places, and it had all of the things I look for – suspense, interesting characters, some amazing writing and a story that you remember after putting down the book. It showed human nature at it’s best and worst. I just loved it, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

The best bits…

Some of the phrases used in this book really stuck with me. For example:

“People disappear when they die. Their voice their laughter, the warmth of their breath….Yet for some there is a exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist.”

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk.”

Beautiful phrases, metaphors which I think describes the joy I get from reading.

I loved the story. Everything was so well described, from the old decaying mansion to the children and the families. The story was built up gradually.  It is hard to explain without giving anything away but the ending is a surprising one, and one which had me checking back through the book to make sure I had it all right.

The bad bits

For me, there were none. I enjoyed the whole story from beginning to end, and when I closed the book I felt that I had read something really good.

5 stars.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Thirteenth-Tale-Diane-Setterfield/dp/0752881671/ref=dp_return_2?ie=UTF8&n=266239&s=books

I was not asked to review this book, or compensated in any way. I have reviewed it because I wanted to 🙂